12 July 2023

OK for Canberra to be sitting on the sidelines for the FIFA Women’s World Cup?

| Tim Gavel
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Women's soccer action.

Women’s football is extremely popular in the ACT. But the cost to host a game as part of the World Cup or establish Canberra as a team base is deemed too expensive. Photo: Capital Football.

In 2019 the ACT Government opted out of bidding to stage FIFA Women’s World Cup games at Canberra Stadium.

The government followed up a couple of years later, announcing it was also opting out of the process to be a training base for World Cup teams.

With the World Cup about to kick off, there is renewed interest in why Canberra is not featuring in any way apart from an exhibition at the University of Canberra (UC).

READ ALSO Capital Football committed to keeping the Kanga Cup in Canberra but more government support is needed

The angst is understandable given the prominent role Canberra has played in developing women’s football. It is also understandable given the way the community has embraced women’s sport in general. It is very popular here.

Equally understandable are the reasons government opted out of paying big money to secure games or undertake to be a training base for teams.

Canberra United vs Perth Glory Round 2 clash of the Westfield Women's National Football League (W-League) 2018/19 season. Final Score: Canberra 4 - 4 Perth. Match was played at McKellar Park in Canberra, ACT, Australia on Sunday 4 November 2018. #CBRvPER #WLeague #TheWomensGame. Photo by Ben Southall (@bsouthallau) | The Women's Game.

Canberra United takes on Perth Glory in Canberra at McKellar Park. Photo: Ben Southall (@bsouthallau).

If the city staged games, Canberra Stadium would have been out of action for three months, leaving the Raiders to find an alternate venue for the back half of the rugby league season.

It was also going to cost millions to win the rights to host games. In the case of securing teams to base themselves in Canberra, the ACT Government would have to underwrite their travel costs to and from the training base. This figure is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Not surprisingly, the five cities hosting games in Australia are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

READ ALSO ‘The first Aboriginal soccer player to hold up the World Cup’: Canberra’s Aidan Kelly on the way to his goal

Of interest is the location of the training bases, with the Central Coast hosting England and Germany.

The remainder of the training bases are located in and around the five hosting cities.

The ACT Government’s reasoning behind opting out of hosting games and being a training base is that its funding focus for football is the new ‘Home of Football’ in Throsby, as well as individual games involving the Matildas and Socceroos.

Soccer Ball

Women’s World Cup matches will be left on the sidelines for Canberra. Photo: File.

I am against the ACT Government paying huge amounts of money for the rights to host major sporting events, regardless of the code, and despite the need to develop sport in our region. The cost can mean other opportunities cannot be undertaken for specific sports due to lack of funds.

Even if the ACT did secure World Cup games, the games were unlikely to involve the Matildas.

There is no doubt the issue will come to the fore as the World Cup progresses, but the lack of involvement of Canberra is somewhat understandable.

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Gregg Heldon11:47 am 15 Aug 23

It’s been embarrassing for our National Capital to not host, what has been the most successful women’s world cup and one of the most successful sporting events ever.
The positives that even just a couple of games would have bought to Canberra, Canberra’s sporting community, Canberra’s womens sporting community and especially Canberra’s footballing community could have been endless, if captured correctly.
The tourism benefits would have been great but, as per usual, this current Government has dropped the ball on this great opportunity.
Maybe they hate sport. Or they hate women playing sport.


Just wondering if you still think it’s ok for Canberra to have missed out?

Belinda Jenkins4:08 pm 21 Jul 23

I’m astonished at this. Canberra had the chance to host games for what is shaping up to be an historic Australian sporting event, and turned it down? Somehow Hamilton and Dunedin in New Zealand (both with populations far smaller than Canberra) could afford to host games, but not Canberra? Our children are terribly disappointed to be missing out.

How much are we paying for the smattering of AussieRules matches at Manuka?

And what has happened to the Home of Football at Throsby? As far as I’m aware, absolutely nothing.

Football fans dudded again by AussieRuler Barr.

Women’s soccer is just boring

Stephen Saunders3:03 pm 13 Jul 23

It’s really stupid that the national capital is hosting nothing. Who else even does that?

Besides, Tim, you haven’t answered my direct question to you: What on earth has happened to the tickets for the final, who and how has snaffled them up?

How come I could walk into the final in Lyon, no problems, but can’t get near it in my own country, can’t even find out what’s happening, I’m not at the right pay grade.

brucewantstobecool10:05 pm 13 Jul 23

Ah, it’s not that hard to work out. FIFA has no doubt kept many tickets for its cronies, but more broadly the standing of the event has grown since 2019 and more people are buying tickets. That you didn’t get tickets isn’t sign of a conspiracy; it’s an outcome of not getting in early enough. I say this as someone who quite easily bought tickets. A long time ago.

It’s missed opportunity for Canberra. While there was no way a Matildas match would be held here in Canberra, the exposure around the world by just hosting matches here would have been priceless.

The ACT Government wants international flights? Let’s show that Canberra is an international destination for world events.

Canberra was buzzing for the Asian Cup matches and before that the Sydney 2000 Olympic football games. No doubt being part of the Women’s World Cup would have been similar. Hotels full, restaurants busy, loads of tourists riding the tram, people marvelling over our 45 year old Bruce stadium.

I’m really not sure how the stadium would be locked out for 3 months. Accor stadium was used last night for the State of Origin, the opening match is 20th July and the next event after the World Cup final on the 20th August is another rugby league match on the 27th August. A full 7 days after the World Cup finishes.

Allianz was used last weekend. The last World Cup match there is on the 6th August, then rugby league is being played there on the 12th August. So what is this 3 month lock out BS? Worse case, surely the Raiders could have played one or two games at their spiritual home ground of Seiffert Oval or had another regional match?

It may have cost a few $$$ but the international exposure would have been priceless. And with this Government not bidding for any 2027 Rugby World Cup matches it’s another mistake waiting to happen.

Overall – it’s huge, missed opportunity by a short-sighted AFL leaning Government.

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